Friday, 1 October 2010

The sweat shirt

This piece was inspired by a discarded sweatshirt I found, glowing like an isotope on a Cumbrian fell (as we call the hills around here) in an otherwise pristine environment.

The yarn was spun from chemicals in remote China,
a factory with yellow breath - a translucent toxic spider’s thread.
In belching trucks, throbbing with voracious engines
and greasy ships
it was transported to a mean factory-owner in India
who paid few rupees, very few of which
fed the children in China.

An aging machine with lustful cacophony
spun the yarn into dull cloth that flopped and sweated
in the deft hands of a seven year old
who turned it into a curious garment
a sweat-shirt shaped, supposedly, for a western child.
At the dye-house, urinating a strange luminous stream
into the local river,
it received a lurid design, a chemical glow
almost phosphorescing in the Asian sunset.
After travels by van, train, plane
and then again, by plane, train, van
it was unpacked by a dull teenager
in the back room of a shop on a dull high street
in a dull town in Essex, releasing a faint smell of paint.
An overweight girl, sucking on sweets and chips,
aimlessly fingered garment after garment,
rail after rail, in the sale section marked ‘up to 70% off’.
Eventually drawn to its gaudy design
she paid the dull teenager a pound
without a smile, leaving a stain on the floor.
After a week, on a hot walk to the brown canal,
she threw it in the brown grass and the brown dust
where it glowed for a day
before a bent street-sweeper picked it up with hesitant fingers
and threw it into his festering hand-cart.
Two days later, among other detritus,
it lay in land-fill,
stubbornly refusing to decompose.

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